Everyone knows that there is an association between tobacco use and lung disease, cancer, and heart disease. However, did you know that tobacco use also increases your risk of gum disease? Current studies show that smokers are up to 6 times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Additionally, when smokers do develop gum disease, gum destruction is more aggressive and they have up to 50% more bone loss than non-smokers.
Why is this so? Multiple studies show that smoking contributes to gum disease for a number of reasons. Firstly, smoking negatively affects the body’s natural defenses against bacteria. This causes smokers to have significantly increased levels of harmful oral bacteria responsible for gum disease in comparison to non-smokers. As the body attempts to rid itself of the increased levels of these harmful bacteria, it destroys the gum and bone that support teeth.
When smokers are treated for gum disease, they do not tend to respond as well as non-smokers. This is because smoking negatively affects many of the body’s healing mechanisms. Does this mean that smokers should avoid treatment for gum disease? Absolutely not! Smokers can still benefit from treatment for gum disease, especially with the help of a Periodontist. In fact, there are certain medications available to Periodontists which can improve smokers’ response to treatment.
One of the worst things about smoking and gum disease is that many smokers may not even know that they have a problem with their gums! Because smoking sometimes negatively affects blood flow in the gums, smokers tend to bleed less from their gums even when affected by gum disease. Because there is usually no pain and a lack of bleeding gums, smokers may not realize they have a problem with their gums until significant symptoms such as loose teeth develop.
If you are a smoker with gum disease, gum recession, or in need of dental implants to replace missing teeth, please contact Dr. Holtzclaw and his expert team at Austin Dental Implant Center to schedule a consultation appointment to discuss your options for treatment.